In the fast-growing category of fresh-cut produce in modified atmosphere packaging vegetables are a lot more visible in the supermarket than fruit. But as recent Packaging World stories have made clear (see PW Aug. '97 p. 68) fruit processors aren't going to stay on the MAP sidelines forever. The latest fruit processor to enter the fresh-cut fray hails from upstate Wolcott NY the second-largest apple-growing region in the nation. Nature's Pleasures(TM) LLC is the firm's name and fresh apples is most decidedly its game. In July it began shipping skin-on apple slices to supermarkets in the mid-Atlantic metro New York and Philadelphia regions in 8-oz flexible pouches having a 16-day shelf life thanks to MAP technology. Also close to commercialization at Nature's Pleasures is a 2-lb pack for both retail and foodservice channels. School districts are said to be most intrigued by this format though people who like to bake at home but aren't fond of peeling and coring apples should also find this an attractive buy at the supermarket. The 2-lb package is expected to have a suggested retail price of $4.29 while the 8-oz pack now in stores costs $1.49. Though newly launched itself Nature's Pleasures was spun off from a well-established fruit processor called Cahoon Farms also based in Wolcott. This firm is best known as an industrial packer of frozen apples and tart cherries for large food processors that use the fruits in pies and frozen dinners. "We feel we know apples better than any company in the country" says Jeff Cahoon who is the sales manager of Cahoon Farms and also heads up Nature's Pleasures. "With industrial sales hitting a plateau lately and no real evidence of that changing we wanted to diversify." Fresh packaged apples he adds "were right down our alley." Nature's Pleasures has few competitors. It's hardly any wonder considering how difficult it is to keep sliced apples from browning. But Cahoon claims that among the very few who are packaging fresh sliced apples Nature's Pleasures offers the best quality product because no chemicals are used. Anti-browning is accomplished not by means of sodium erythorbate or calcium chloride but by dipping the apples in a solution containing ascorbic acid which is nothing more than Vitamin C. It makes a big difference says Cahoon. "Taste is the key" he explains. "Our apples taste better."